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Carl Frampton: The Greatest Hits

Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

Irish boxing hero Carl Frampton still has ambitious plans in boxing. The 33-year-old wants to become a three-weight world champion but has seen a fight with WBO junior lightweight titleholder Jamel Herring evaporate for the time being because of travel restrictions.

Frampton, however, is back in the gym with trainer Jamie Moore and preparing to return to the ring later this summer.

“I’ve been back in a week,” he told The Ring. “We got the overnight boat, there’s no flights from Belfast to Liverpool or Manchester, so me and [light heavyweight prospect] Stevey Ward got the overnight boat in from Belfast to Birkenhead… It was nine hours.”

He’s still enjoying the sport, even though he recognises that after 29 fights (27-2, 15 knockouts) he’s nearer the end than the beginning and even though Herring won’t be next.

“It doesn’t look like it,” Frampton added. “He’s fighting a guy called Johnathan Oquendo next, who’s okay, not bad, but I think it’s a safe enough fight for Herring. They’re talking about me behind closed doors at the end of July or beginning of August against similar level of opposition to Oquendo. There’s no opponent and no definite date but that’s what they’re hoping for, talking about (promoter Frank) Warren doing a show at BT Studios. It’s going to be strange [with no crowd] but we’re all in the same boat. Whoever I’m fighting, he’s behind closed doors listening to the same dead atmosphere as me. I was lucky enough that I boxed for Ireland at a reasonably high level and in decent enough level multi-nation tournaments with not many people watching and I will be okay. What will annoy me, and I remember hearing it at some of my early fights in a six-rounder or whatever, is you hear the commentary and it’s so strange. I take one fight at a time and I am enjoying it, but I know a time will come when I have to retire and I think that it’s just one fight at a time in my career at this time. I’m still feeling good, I’m still feeling in good shape, I feel like I’ve still a bit to do and a bit to give… I want the world title fight with Herring, but one fight at a time at this stage.”

He is mindful of the toll hard sparring and fights take but now is not the time to walk away.

“I really enjoy being in this gym with the boys, they’re great people and we’re all very similar and get on well,” Frampton said. “When you really start to think about that when you get up in the morning and think about going to the gym to spar or whatever, that’s the time to get out. Obviously it’s in the back of my mind and I’ve got two young kids, which are the most important things in my life – a lot more important to me than boxing is – so I want to live long and have a great life with them after boxing and I want to be healthy for the rest of my days.”

The former two-weight world titleholder now looks back on six of his defining fights:

Kiko Martinez
Date/ Location: February 9, 2013/ Odyseey Arena, Belfast
Titles: European junior featherweight

“It was a big fight for me because I remember realising after that fight, I now have what it takes to become a world champion. It was the toughest fight I was ever involved in. I stopped him in the ninth round, but I remember the tactics were to move my feet and after four rounds he’d slow down. I remember in Round 7 and 8 going back to the corner and thinking it doesn’t even look like he’s going to slow down yet. What’s going on? There were a lot of thoughts running through my head, like ‘this is a hard, hard fight’ and I think it’s the type of fight where you learn a lot about yourself and where other fighters may have thought, ‘Fuck this!’ [But] I wanted to win so much. I was at home, fighting for a European title, a major title in my eyes, and after that win I was pissing blood, first time anything like that happened to me and I knew then I had what it takes. I had that dogged spirit to fight through adversity to become a world champion. If I have to fight through a dogfight, I can do it. You do it in sparring but you don’t know it until you do it on the night.”

Result: Frampton TKO 9

Frampton cracks Martinez with a right en route to his first world title win. Photo courtesy of Sky Sports

Kiko Martinez 2
Date/ Location: September 6, 2014 / Titanic Quarter, Belfast
Titles: IBF junior featherweight

“There was a lot of pressure on me that night because it was in a purpose-built stadium outdoors in Belfast and I’d already beaten him in a European title fight and even though it was a hard night people just expected me to beat him again. The setting was perfect, I could actually see where I grew up in Tigers Bay from the ring in the distance and it was made for me to win but I still had to go and do it, it wasn’t a certainty. It was a good performance. Kiko was still a live fighter, still a very good fighter, and I won the fight pretty convincingly I thought, a lot more convincingly than the European title fight I had with him even though I stopped him. He’s a hard wee man. He’s a tough man, and although he had a marauding style coming forwards, defensively he was okay. He rode shots well and slipped and could slide and he knew what he was doing. He was a brilliant puncher, a real thudding puncher and a nice guy.”

Result: Frampton UD 12

Frampton (left) had a tougher time than expected against Alejandro Gonzalez. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Alejandro Gonzalez
Date/ Location: July 18, 2015/ Don Haskins Center, El Paso
Titles: IBF junior featherweight

“It was this or the Luke Jackson fight because that was at Windsor Park but I’m going for Gonzalez because it was my first fight in America, it was my first fight with Al Haymon, it was live on CBS, it was live on ITV, so the exposure I got for that worldwide was incredible. It was a matinee show in the U.K, I topped a matinee bill for CBS and then [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr. topped an evening show for Showtime at the same arena but it was a huge night for me. I remember seeing the kid walking around the hotel lobby, a big skinny kid and it was probably over-confidence, just thinking I’m going to punch this guy’s head in, but he dropped me twice in the first round and I had to show a lot of balls to get back on my feet. He hurt me again in the third round and he probably won the third round, but I think I won everything else. I think he won the first and third and I won everything else but to come back and get the win after such a dreadful start was great and for it to be on terrestrial TV on both sides of the Atlantic was huge for my profile. I showed a lot of bottle to get up and win convincingly in the end. It was very sad what happened to him, he was a nice kid, strange and sad and horrible what happened to him. I remember sitting down with him and my wife Christine after the fight and he talked about how he was thankful for the opportunity, not that it was me – it was Al Haymon, but he was talking about his young daughter and what he was going to do with his money, put her through school and get a house and not long later he was murdered. It was so, so sad.”

Result: Frampton UD 12

Frampton (left) had too much for British rival Scott Quigg. Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing

Scott Quigg
Date/ Location: February 27, 2016/ Manchester Arena, Manchester
Titles: WBA/ IBF junior featherweight

“It was a unification fight, it was probably the least exciting fight of my career and one of the biggest. I’d say it was probably his fault because I was winning rounds by doing very little and I remember the advice from [trainer] Shane McGuigan was to not exert myself too much because I was winning the rounds. I was struggling to make (junior featherweight), so there was no point me trying to win rounds by a mile when I could just do what I was doing, move around and pick him off, so that was the tactics and it worked. But it was a huge fight, he was a British rival, we’d talked about fighting for a long, long time and it was personal. I didn’t like him, I didn’t like Joe Gallagher, I didn’t really like Eddie Hearn at the time and it was personal. I was loving it when I won that fight, unified champion, I’d beaten Quigg. I remember the atmosphere was amazing. Quigg being from Bury, down the road from Manchester, but I’m pretty sure I had three quarters of the arena that night, the amount of people that came over from Belfast to support me was unreal and that was a huge night. I wasn’t aware he’d broken his jaw. He said it was the fourth round but it was the sixth round when I broke it, which credit to him he fought for six rounds with a broken jaw, but he tries to make people think he boxed for eight rounds with a broken jaw, which he didn’t. But he’s a tough man to do that and we saw in his fight with [Oscar] Valdez how tough he was. It wasn’t the fight people expected but it was a comfortable win. One judge gave it to him and I don’t know what was going on there, and watching it back, even being critical of myself, there’s no way I can see Quigg even getting close to me. I thought I won it easy.”

Result: Frampton SD 12

Leo Santa Cruz
Date/ Location: July 30, 2016 / Barclays Arena, Brooklyn
Titles: WBA featherweight

“Because of the Quigg and Santa Cruz fight [in 2016] I became Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year, Boxing Writers of America Fighter of the Year, British Boxing Board of Control Fighter of the Year, ESPN’s, Yahoo’s… that made people sit up and take notice of me. I went over there and I was expecting to win but people didn’t expect me to win that fight. He’s a nice guy and he was expected to win; some publication or website asked about 35 journalists and I think 95-percent of the people picked Leo Santa Cruz to beat me. I could see the reasons why, I was dropped a few fights previously, the Quigg fight wasn’t the best, I was moving up to fight at featherweight, I was coming to America and I understood why they were picking him. I just had this belief that I could win the fight and it was a brilliant fight to watch. I was happy how I performed and I won the fight. I did the business that night and became a two-weight world champion, in New York, and it was an amazing feeling.”

Result: Frampton MD 12

Frampton (left) and Santa Cruz go at it a second time. Photo by Esther Lin

Leo Santa Cruz 2
Date/ Location: January 28, 2017/ MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Titles: WBA featherweight

“The second fight was another good fight and I would happily say Leo won it fair and square. It was Vegas and I was topping the bill at the MGM and I remember maybe a month beforehand going down to The Strip for the first time and seeing this huge billboard on the side of the MGM next to David Copperfield and it was like, ‘This is insane.’ It was a proud moment for me, and the amount of Irish and British fans that came over to support me was amazing. They estimated around 5,000 travelled for that fight which is huge for a featherweight. Not since the days of Ricky Hatton, who brought 20, 25, 30,0000 people… but I don’t think anyone had managed 5,000 in travelling support and I’m very proud of that, I just wish I’d done enough to win the fight. But he outfoxed me, he outsmarted me. I went in and the tactics weren’t the best, it was kind of ‘do the same as I did last time,’ guessing he was just going to come harder, not move as he did, that he was going to be a bit more forceful. He told me what he was going to do, he said he was going to move, I actually thought it was a double bluff but it was still a good fight. It was a shame the third one never happened. Two good fights, one each, two close fights, it should have happened, but don’t blame me for it never happening. Sole responsibility has to lie on Leo. I remember him saying in the press conference he’d come to Belfast for the third fight because I’d gone to America twice, but I knew he wouldn’t come to Belfast, and I was happy to travel to LA for the third fight. It was mental. He was trying to say New York was a home fight for me because of the Irish Americans on the East Coast, he said Vegas was neutral because he’s from LA, which is a three-and-a-half hour drive from LA, but I was happy to go right into LA to fight him and he knew that. It’s a shame it never happened.”

Result: Santa Cruz UD 12